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Diaries out! What’s on in Essex this June

From joyous Jubilee events and hilarious stand-ups to fabulous festivals, here’s your bumper guide to what’s happening in the county this month.

FAMILY: Wild Wednesdays, Markshall Estate, 1 June

No, I’m not talking about Happy Hour on hump day, this one is for the Mudlings. From hammock building and outdoor crafts to adventure play, this is the perfect day out to get ‘em out. The best part? It’s absolutely free – just drop by!  

EVENT: Essex Book Festival, Various Locations, 1-30 June

The county’s annual literature event (ordinarily held in March) is back and it’s bigger and better than ever. It will take place in an impressive 40 venues – think libraries, museums, parks and heritage sites – across Essex this year and aims to be more accessible to families with lots of brilliant free activities. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make a giant jellyfish out of a plastic bottle? Hours of good, clean fun.

FOOD & DRINK: Gin Festival, Dog & Pickle, 2-3 June

Image credit: Devon Berko

The county’s annual literature event (ordinarily held in March) is back and it’s bigger and better than ever. It will take place in an impressive 40 venues – think libraries, museums, parks and heritage sites – across Essex this year and aims to be more accessible to families with lots of brilliant free activities. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make a giant jellyfish out of a plastic bottle? Hours of good, clean fun.

EVENT: Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, Cammas Hall, 2-5 June   

Image credit: King’s Church International

Fancy a PYO party? That’s Pick Your Own, FYI. Fill your basket with fresh fruit from the farm while you jam (geddit) along to live music and sip a fruity Pimms or two. Fruit picking, but make it fabulous. Am I right?

FOOD & DRINK: Jubilee Chef’s Taster, The Hoop, 3 June

Stock’s chicest pub will be marking the Queen’s Jubilee by celebrating the best of British food and drink. Neil Bull (aka the man behind The Essex Wine School) will be hosting a special Chef’s Taster complete with a British wine matching menu while Essex Spirits Co. will be mixing up some classic British aperitifs and after-dinner cocktails. Sold.

EVENT: The Essex Country Show, 3-5 June

Alpacas and dogs and ducks, oh my! Get your wellies on and get down to this annual country extravaganza in Brentwood’s Weald Park. And, when we say extravaganza, we mean extravaganza – think animals, magic shows, music, fire juggling, food stalls, falconry displays and more. Blimey. If that doesn’t keep the whole brood happy, nothing will.  

EVENT: Creamfields, Hylands House, 2-4 June

Glow sticks at the ready, people. Hylands House is once again playing host to the annual music festival and this year the line-up is as impressive as the last (or, the one before that because, you know, Covid and all that). From Fat Boy Slim and David Guetta to Becky Hill and Idris Elba (OMG), there’s something for every modern music lover.

EVENT: Colne Engaine Festival, 2-5 June

A quintessential family fete bursting with village charm, community and spirit. Back after a three year hiatus (it’s held every two years but 2020’s festival was cancelled due to Covid), there will be plenty to keep everyone happy and entertained. We’re talking food stalls, beer tents, craft stalls, bouncy castles and bungee trampolines. And, if you’re a fan of hog roasts, book tickets for the Friday night.

EVENT: Colchester Medieval Festival & Oyster Fayre, 4-5 June

The biggest and best (according to The Times) of its kind in Europe, this family-friendly fayre and market is a great way to while away a sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Wander around the medieval market stalls while being entertained by period performers, musicians and story tellers. There are crafts for the kiddies and lots of food and booze for the folks.

THEATRE: MET Opera Live: Hamlet, Firstsite, Colchester, 4 June

To see or not to see, that is the question. Actually, it’s not really a question – you should really go and see this. The contemporary theatre adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous play has won over critics left, right and centre and it’s not hard to see why. Cue the remarkable ensemble and impressive tenor tones of Allan Clayton.

ART: Brentwood Art Trail, 4-26 June

We love locals showcasing locals and this annual art trail is a great way to visit your favourite indies whilst enjoying some cool local artwork. There will also be fab pop-up galleries and interactive workshops along the way.

FAMILY: Kids Rule! Audley End House and Gardens, Now until 5 June

If you haven’t booked yet, there’s still time to take the kids to this brilliant royal-themed event. To celebrate the Jubilee, the sprogs will be taken back in time to Queen Victoria’s reign with quest sheets, historic performers and fun royal-themed activities. There’s even an expert team of Victorian Fairy Hunters to help the kiddos find mystical fairies and imps hiding in the grounds. Cute.

EVENT: Ingatestone Jubilee Community Picnic, 5 June

Image credit: Annie Spratt

Oh, I love a picnic. Especially when there’s giant garden games, live music and a photo throne for those all-important Jubilee insta posts. Good wholesome village fun, that’s what I say! Good to know: cream teas will be available but you need to pre-order.

EVENT: Mrs Salisbury’s Jubilee Afternoon Tea Party, Maldon, 5 June

Afternoon tea and Pimm’s? Er, yes please. Mrs Salisbury’s pretty pathway will play host to a special Jubilee street party for its lucky locals. There will be the usual delicious suspects – finger sandwiches, scones and sweet treats – as well as regal-themed cocktails to wash it all down. Yum.

FAMILY: Superheroes & Princesses, Marsh Farm, until 5 June

Whether your little one loves Spiderman or Elsa or both (it’s the 21st century, after all), this fun family day out will earn you some mega Mum and Dad brownie points. There’s also a brand new train, face painting and fun fair rides for the sprogs to enjoy. Plus, it’s a great excuse to get them in one of their gazillion fancy dress costumes.

EVENT: River Nights, Audley End Miniature Railway, 11 and 24 June

Sorry kiddos, this one’s for the grown-ups. For four nights only this summer (more dates to be released soon), the popular family attraction will transform into an adults-only playground. Guests will be greeted with a chilled glass of Prosecco before taking a train ride into the festoon-lit woods for craft cocktails, stone-baked pizza and live music. See you on the woodland dancefloor…

FOOD & DRINK: Royal Afternoon Tea, Down Hall, Now until 12 June

Pinkies at the ready! Enjoy an afternoon tea fit for a royal in the luxury hotel’s elegant and recently refurbished lounge. Expect three tiers of quintessential finger sandwiches, cakes and scones with some of the Queen’s very own favourites thrown in for good measure. Plus, you will also be treated to a Dubonnet cocktail served over ice – just like Her Majesty likes it.

COMEDY: Sarah Millican: Bobby Dazzler, Cliffs Pavilion, 12 June

In need of a good LOL? Millican will be bringing all the fun to the Cliffs Pavilion this summer as part of her sixth international tour. From dieting mishaps to surprisingly funny smear tests(!), expect the usual side-splitting laughs from the South Shields’ comedienne.

THEATRE: Kinky Boots, Civic Theatre, Chelmsford, 15-18 June

This has to be your next girls night. Heart-warming, fun and full of catchy songs and dance moves (cue dancing in the aisles), Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price – a young man who turns to drag, and his alter-ego ‘Lola’, in an attempt to save his family’s struggling shoe business.

ROAD TRIP: Midsummer Nights, Helmingham Hall Gardens, Stowmarket, 15 June

Now the warmer nights have arrived, it seems a shame to just flop in front of the telly after a day’s work. So instead, why not pop over the border to Suffolk’s Helmingham Hall Gardens on their special evening opening? A rather magical way to discover the gardens or just to experience them in a new light – even better if you add a glass of chilled wine. Ahh, summer nights, we’ve missed you.

EVENT: Ladies Day, Chelmsford Racecourse, 16 June

Nothing says English summer quite like race day and this year, Essex is putting on its usual glam display of shopping, champers and celebs. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, of Murder On The Dancefloor fame (sorry, that will be stuck in your head all day now), will be leading the live music line-up with Jodie Harsh serving up the tunes on the decks.

FOOD & DRINK: Foodies Festival, Hylands, 17-19 June

Ok, so obviously it’s all about grub at this fab food festival but I can’t lie that I’m more excited about seeing Blue, Liberty X and 911. Hello, 90s throwback! When you’re not fan-girling over the retro bands, there will be more than enough amazing chefs – from Michelins to Masterchefs – to get excited about.

FOOD & DRINK: Essex Festival of Food & Drink, Cressing, 18-19 June

Image credit: Frederick Medina

From chefs tables and cook-alongs to a ‘Cheese and Wine Theatre’ (you’ll find me in this tent, thank you), this a dream day out for foodies. There’s even a plant-based workshop to keep veggies/vegans happy and beer tasting for any begrudging hubbies.

EVENT: Leigh Folk Festival, 23-26 June

Grab your guitars and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the UK’s largest free folk festival. Held within the walls of the stunning Leigh Library Gardens, there will be more than 125 free performances on offer – from music and dance to comedy and poetry – plus, a special series of intimate (ticketed) evening concerts. That’s date night sorted.

EVENT: Essex Pride, Chelmsford, 25 June

Image credit: Cecile Johnsen

There are many brilliant reasons why Chelmsford was recently granted City Status, but one very important reason was Essex Pride and its annual celebration of diversity and inclusion. This year, to celebrate its 50th year, there will be a fabulous parade through the City centre as well as DJs, dance tents and a circus workshop. Oh, and bring your pooch along for a chance to win the Essex Pride Drag Dog Show. Let’s hope the pup-arazzi turn up.

FAMILY: Dinosaur Weekend, Barleylands Farm Park, 25-26 June (Royal Half Term)

Fancy a roar-some day out? Sorry, couldn’t resist. Pop along to the popular farm park in Billericay for life-size dinos, fossil digging, a dinosaur egg trail, crafts and more. And of course, there’s the usual farm fun in the form of giant bouncy pillows, tractor rides and animal meet-and-greets.

ART: Hayletts Gallery Art Exhibition, Fingringhoe

The former Muddy Awards winner is holding its first live exhibition in two years. The must-see showcase – held in the gallery’s stunning converted barn – will feature works from some of Britain’s most famous artists, including; Tracy Emin, David Hockney and Henry Moore.

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